A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York
**WINNER OF THE EDGAR® AWARD FOR BEST FACT CRIME**
A "terrific, harrowing, true-crime account of an elusive serial killer who preyed upon gay men in the 1990s."
-The New York Times (Editor's Pick)
"In this astonishing and powerful work of nonfiction, Green meticulously reports on a series of baffling and brutal crimes targeting gay men. It is an investigation filled with twists and turns, but this is much more than a compelling true crime story. Green has shed light on those whose lives for too long have been forgotten, and rescued an important part of American history."
-David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon
The gripping true story, told here for the first time, of the Last Call Killer and the gay community of New York City that he preyed upon.
The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, and a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch and water. The man strikes the piano player as forgettable.
He looks bland and inconspicuous. Not at all what you think a serial killer looks like. But that’s what he is, and tonight, he has his sights set on a gray haired man. He will not be his first victim.
Nor will he be his last.
The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s and had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the skyhigh murder rates, and the AIDS epidemic, his murders have been almost entirely forgotten.
This gripping true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer and the decades-long chase to find him. And at the same time, it paints a portrait of his victims and a vibrant community navigating threat and resilience.
Journalist Green debuts with an ambitious if flawed look at an obscure serial murder case. In the early 1990s, five men were picked up in gay bars in Manhattan by a man who stabbed them to death and dismembered their corpses. Green provides detailed backstories of the Last Call Killer's victims, showing how their life paths led them to their fatal encounters with the man who murdered them, Richard Rogers. Rogers was a respected nurse in Mount Sinai's cardiac surgical intensive care unit until his arrest in 2001 after a technology called vacuum metal deposition, previously unknown to the investigators, enabled them to match Rogers's fingerprints to unidentified ones recovered from plastic bags used in the disposal of one of the bodies. In 2005, he was convicted of two murders and, the following year, sentenced to 30-years-to-life on each charge. While Green devotes attention to the lives of the five victims, those sections aren't as memorable as the ones focusing on the investigations of their tragic deaths. Green's at his best in analyzing how the crimes were handled at the time, when the victims' sexual orientation led to the murders being treated less seriously. The author did his homework, spending over three years reviewing records and interviewing those who knew the victims, but his methodology can be spotty. At one point, he quotes then NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik about the handling of Rogers's case, noting in a footnote, without elaboration, "Off the record, Kerik said something different," leaving readers to wonder what that was and its significance. Green deserves credit for reviving awareness of the killings, but this won't stand out amid the current true crime boom.
A very dry slow read for those who enjoy true crime. We learn very little about the victims the killer or his motive. A regrettable purchase.